Greek Mythology tells of Narcissus, an exceedingly handsome boy born as the son of the River Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. He was scornful of both lads and lasses because he was greatly enamoured by his own beauty. It is said that Echo who was a mountain nymph loved him, but since he did not return her love, she died of misery. Many other damsels loved him too, but he scorned at them all for their imperfect looks. One distressed and dejected admirer prayed to the heavens and said, “So may he himself love, and not win over the creature he so loves.”
Narcissus often used to sit near a water spring. One day he bent over it to quench his thirst. He was seized of a thirst of a strange dimension. He stared at his own image in the water and it took his breath away; he instantly fell in love with it. He tried to reach it but it was too far down below, so he could not. He did not realize that the vision was but a shadow; a reflection which was not real. An erotic scene is said to have been enacted by Narcissus in his lust for the image that he could not physically embrace in his arms.
Little did he know that it was his own reflection; it is that which is nowhere, it comes with you, stays with you, goes with you…. if you can bear to tear your self away and go …
He kept staring at the reflection for want of being able to touch it. As his tears spilled to join the spring water the reflection got disturbed and Narcissus experienced deep agony at the thought of losing the only one whom he had ever loved. It is said that he beat his fists upon his chest till he could breathe no longer. Strangely enough, it is said that just before his funeral was to be, his body disappeared from under the shroud and in its place a lonely Narcissus flower was found.
The great Oscar Wilde once wrote that when Narcissus died, the Oreads (mountain nymphs) of the forest thought that they should go and offer condolences to the spring on whose bank Narcissus often lay, for Narcissus had left behind no progeny. Perhaps, thought the Oreads, the spring would be missing Narcissus, so they set out to offer it some comfort.
The Oreads said to the pool, “Narcissus used to lie on your banks most of the time, you must be very sad, in the memory of the beautiful Narcissus.” The pool stared at the Oreads and said squarely, “Was Narcissus beautiful? I never noticed!” The Oreads replied, “Surely you would be the best one to know, because he spent most of his time lying on your banks and looking down into you. For in the mirror of your waters, he was able to picture his own beauty and admire it.”
The pool answered nonchalantly, “Is that so? Well, I never bothered to notice his looks; for when Narcissus lay on my banks and bent over me, I looked into the mirror of his eyes and saw the splendour and beauty of myself of which I am proud!”
How true it is that the vain think of themselves alone. They know not of the pleasures and pains of those around them, for they are too full of their own self, to find place for thinking about others.
An inflated ego is like a dirty veil on a pretty face.